Letters to the editor

A Matter of Degree

Much ado is being made lately about a senior information technology official in the Homeland Security Department allegedly padding her resume with degrees from a diploma mill. In particular, DHS has been taken to task for not checking [Laura Callahan's] references before hiring her [Callahan put on leave, FCW.com, June 5].

Perhaps DHS didn't feel a need to investigate thoroughly because she was previously a deputy chief information officer in the Labor Department. However, I haven't seen any news reports where Labor is being asked why it didn't check her references; just DHS.

Also, none of the news has so far mentioned whether she was effective in her previous jobs, which may be why DHS wanted to hire her.

I'm not in favor of resume padding or diploma mills. They cheapen the whole system. However, a degree isn't necessarily a good indicator of anything other than academic ability. People should be judged by their performance, not whether they had the time or money to get an accredited master's degree or Ph.D.

Ultimately, while I believe life experience and native ability should count for something, I also believe the only school that we should credit for it is the School of Hard Knocks.

Dale Long

Homeland Security Department

The following is in response to an Intercepts item titled "Death of 'C4ISR' " in the May 26 issue. In it, Federal Computer Week reported that "DOD officials would like to drive a wedge between the 'C4' and 'ISR' portions of [command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] to more accurately portray what happens during military activities."

The C4ISR Wedge

True, a wedge needs to be driven in, but it's two spaces to the left.

I started in C2 in the mid-1960s. Then, somebody realized you have to be able to communicate in order to perform C2 (true, but you also need other things, like personnel), so another C was added. Then another C was added — does this mean you aren't commanding and controlling if you don't use a computer?

While I was away, a few more letters got added — more length, less meaning. The community would be better served if we returned to our roots and simply acknowledged that there are many additional ac-ronyms needed to support the mission.

Mike Nicholson

Get All Services to the Table

The Air Force is consolidating a council for IT spending, etc. ["Air Force forms council for IT buys," FCW.com, June 2]. That's wonderful, but it would be a better idea for ALL the services to come to the table, describe their requirements and concentrate on utilizing the "same sheet" type of equipment — even if the emphasis were in different areas, such as acquisitions, e-mail, memorandums, equipment accountability and personnel records.

It would save money, consolidate personnel expertise, and allow the technical and nontechnical to operate in the same arena without problems.

Patricia Alsabrook

Forces Command, U.S. Army

Models for Managers

Burnell Meyer, in his letter to the editor, "Ensuring IT Project Manager Success" [FCW, May 12], suggested the use of the Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity Model to help IT project managers improve their project management skills.

SEI now has models available that improve upon the Capability Maturity Model for Software (SW-CMM). This upgraded suite of models, called Capability Maturity Model Integration, is a more up- to-date road map to improved products, services and processes.

Government has experience working directly with CMM-based improvement in many of its agencies. It also has experience with contractors that have used the SW-CMM and now CMMI. We at SEI have seen IT organizations increasingly adopt first the SW-CMM and now CMMI to improve their processes. Although not a certification program, the pursuit of CMM-based process improvement provides IT organizations with best practices that include project management and process management as well as engineering and support.

IT organizations using a CMMI-based approach are finding they can have more control over their operations and development by tailoring CMMI to meet IT-specific needs. More information about CMMI is available on SEI's Web site at www.sei.cmu.edu/cmmi.

Mike Phillips

CMMI program manager

Software Engineering Institute

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